By Dr. Abner Mality

Samael is a musical riddle that’s hard to solve. You can never be sure what you’re going to get from these long-running and mercurial Swiss metalheads. Will it be suffocating death-doom ala “Blood Ritual”? Will it be atmospheric electro-metal such as “Passage”? Or overwhelming industrial metal noise like on “Above”?

With “Hegemony”, they definitely seem to be drawing inspiration from one of their most popular and influential albums, “Ceremony of Opposites”. The songs are short, punchy and groovy, with a more “metal” feel. But on top of that base, they add the symphonic industrial touch of their more modern albums. The result is very potent in short doses, but upon listening to “Hegemony” in one sitting, I was struck by how monolithic and one-note it is. The songs are very similar is construction and as the album wears on, you realize you are hearing the same thing over and over again. The only real aberration is an odd cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” that doesn’t really work at all.

Broken up individually, there are some great songs here. The title track and “Samael” both deliver powerful tunes updating that “Ceremony of Opposites” sound. The single “Black Supremacy” is thunderously catchy and perhaps it’s not too far off the mark to call this version of Samael a black metal version of Rammstein. Some of the songs like “Dictate of Transparency” and “Angel of Wrath” are immensely heavy with that combination of massive synth and guitar.

Yet it does come across as very uniform and not terribly inventive. You can’t blame the band for giving fans what they want, but I think they are capable of more.